Joel Pattison is associate director for creative services at William & Mary.
Social media and mobile—both are popular topics for anyone involved in web communications. While it’s easy to find opinions on both subjects, there seems to be less commentary about their intersection and overlap. Social media and mobile are closely related, but it takes guidance and planning to make them work together in harmony. How do you engage using social media on the mobile platform? I’ll give you some insights from our efforts at William & Mary.
Some social media, like Foursquare, are inherently tied to mobile devices. William & Mary embraced Foursquare from an early date—the college opened an account in September 2010. To facilitate interaction with our Foursquare community, we created and consolidated check-ins for campus venues and added photographs to our most popular check-in spots. We worked with the campus bookstore, computer store and coffee shops to offer specials and discounts to anyone who checked in using Foursquare. And with the cooperation of undergraduate admission, we borrowed interesting facts from our campus tour for prospective students and placed tips in the relevant buildings. Foursquare is just one piece in the rapidly expanding geo-location space—Michael Stoner recently blogged about the use of SCNVGR for admission events.
But what about social media platforms that aren’t directly tied to mobile devices? At William & Mary, we pursued several strategies for promoting social media interaction with mobile users. Our most successful method was promoting campus-wide events—and associated hash tags, photographs and Facebook commentary—through a button on our mobile website. During homecoming this year, we placed a special event button on our mobile site for the two weeks surrounding homecoming weekend. The button served as a mobile aggregator for tweets, pictures, Facebook posts, videos and blog entries related to homecoming. We also provided buttons on our mobile site for commencement and orientation. We know from observation and analytics that these social media event buttons are some of the most popular content on our mobile site, despite being available only for short periods of time.
Cross promotion between social media and mobile works both ways—social media channels can also be used to build momentum for mobile websites and mobile applications. In early 2011, William & Mary released a game that allowed students and alumni to dress up the school mascot in different outfits. Users could save their creations and post them to Facebook, thus generating social media buzz around the newly released app.
Social media and mobile devices should work hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t always happen automatically. With a mix of careful planning and experimentation, you can leverage mobile devices to expand your social media footprint.